• Racing/
  • Balthazar Is Cross Country King

Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country) 3m 7f

  • (5yo+, 3m 7f, Class 2, 16 runners)
  • Winner £31,280 2nd £9,240 3rd £4,620 4th £2,310 5th £1,155 6th £580
  • Going: Good (Good to Soft in places; Cross Country: Good to Soft, Soft in places)
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 8m 19.30s
  • Off time: 16:00:14
  • Last Updated: March 12 2014, 16:37 GMT

Cross-country specialist Balthazar King (4/1) defied top weight with a narrow victory over Any Currency in the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Balthazar King won the cross-country event again
Balthazar King won the cross-country event again

Winner of this specialist contest in 2012, the Philip Hobbs-trained 10-year-old just denied Any Currency by a short head after a mighty tussle in the hands of Richard Johnson.

Big Shu, the winner 12 months ago, was two lengths away in third with Duke Of Lucca fourth.

Johnson put the win down his mount's sheer will to win, saying: "He's just amazing. I thought it would be difficult off top weight, but he never stops trying.

"He just wants to win. He's a real front-runner but he saved a little bit for the end."

Hobbs admitted to thinking Any Currency had possibly stolen victory with his late lunge, saying: "Balthazar King keeps coming year after year after year.

"He's essentially just very genuine.

"He stays very well and he's very clever.

"He kept on going and stayed on well, but I wasn't sure whether he'd won at the line."

  • Horses work on a misty morning at Prestbury Park.
  • The cold start saw some of the Cheltenham employees out in first-time headgear...
  • Ruby Walsh looks pensive ahead of day two of the meeting.
  • The ladies arrive in their finery on Ladies Day...
  • and it looks as if spectacular hats are the order of the day...
  • as warm smiles melted the morning mists.
  • A racegoer left a floral tribute to Arkle.
  • Punters planned their bets in the big handicaps with military precision...
  • John Motson was among the racegoers at Prestbury Park on Wednesday...
  • Creepy sets a fast pace under Ian Popham in the Neptune...
  • but it's another winner for Ireland as Faugheen clears the last in fine style...
  • ....and the sun shines on favourite backers at Cheltenham.
  • Ruby Walsh salutes the crowd on the way back to the enclosures.
  • Life's good for Faugheen's owner Rich Ricci...
  • The runners are under orders for the RSA Chase
  • and as they come to the last O'Faolain's Boy has to fend off the attentions of Smad Place...
  • and a delighted Barry Geraghty claims his third RSA.
  • The Princess Royal and Zara Tindall watch their picks with interest
  • They begin the run for home in a gruelling renewal of the Coral Cup...
  • and Whisper is kicked clear with Get Me Out Of Here in pursuit...
  • Winning rider, Nico de Boinville punches the air in delight.
  • SIre De Grugy stays on stoutly up the hill to claim the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
  • The new and old guard with Sire De Grugy leaves Sizing Europe in his wake.
  • The new champion is patted by a delighted Jamie Moore...
  • Connections celebrate with their pride and joy.
  • Jamie and Gary Moore collect the Queen Mother trophy.
  • Sire De Grugy gives a grin as Jamie Moore looks on...
  • Balthazar King (red with blue stars) makes ground in the Cross Country Chase...
  • ...and it's many happy returns for the former winner under Richard Johnson.
  • Richard Johnson acknowledges the crowd after his victory.
  • Hawk High gets the better of the luckless Katgary in the Fred Winter...
  • and Brian Hughes  has the sweet taste of victory after a near-miss on Tuesday.
  • A downcast Tony McCoy returns after taking a fall from Goodwood Mirage.
  • It was a mixed day for some punters at Cheltenham...
  • Silver Concorde was a big priced winner of the bumper under Robbie McNamara...
  • but with the first six home all trained in Ireland - the tricolour was in evidence.
All the best images from Champion Chase day at Cheltenham.

Sire Collonges had made the running with Any Currency and Duke Of Lucca, a stablemate of the winner, also handy from the outset.

There was little change in the order until the final circuit where Any Currency went on under Ian Popham but his move was covered by Johnson on Balthazar King.

Big Shu, the 3/1 favourite, was brought into the race quietly by Paul Carberry but he could not quite get to the first two, who fought out a battle royal up the hill after three miles seven furlongs and 32 fences.

Martin Keighley, trainer of runner-up Any Currency, said: "I'm gutted. It was a great run and Ian gave him a fantastic ride.

"He really deserved to win something like that.

"He's always been a bit of a monkey, but the course suits him and he's a relentless galloper."

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